Two women rice farmers discuss their best seed saving practices

Crop productionPost-harvest activities

Notes to broadcasters

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Seed grain is living matter. To preserve it in good condition until the next planting season there are some important practices that farmers can use. In Bangladesh, more than 95% of farmers rely on their farm-saved seed, and many use innovative techniques to conserve rice seed. The following program will help you to share seed storage ideas with rice farmers in your zone.


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Hello and welcome to the program. Today we’re talking about storing rice seed. You probably know that successful seed storage depends mainly on water content. If seed isn’t correctly dried before storage, it becomes soft, hot and damp, and this can reduce the germination rate when you plant it next season. There will also be more diseases and insect infestation. During this program you’ll hear testimonials from two women rice farmers, who have the know-how in seed conservation. Here they are now….

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When the rice is ready to harvest, the first thing we do is to select the best panicles in the field and harvest them separately. We then thresh and dry them on a table.

After drying the seed, we have to check the water content. We do this by cracking the grain between our teeth.

Once we are sure that it is well dried, we let it cool down.

Once we know that the grain is cool and dry, we prepare the storage container. We wash it and dry it to remove all the insects and their eggs.

Some women use plastic jars. Or metal boxes or cans. Many among us use earthenware painted pots. But if the earthenware pots are not painted, air goes right through them. And if air gets in, there is more chance of insects and moisture spoiling the grain.

To avoid this we cover the pots with paint or varnish, inside and outside. This is how we seal the pores on the pots.

Sometimes I use cooking oil or shea butter to cover the outside of the pots.

Yes, that will also seal the pots. And remember that gunny sacks or polythene bags cannot stop air from passing through, so they don’t work for seed storage. You need containers that are airtight.

That’s right. Now, when we have the container ready, we pour the seed inside and fill it to the brim. If there is not enough rice to fill the container, we add puffed rice or dry sand to fill the empty space. By doing this we reduce the survival chances of insects.

Or, we can light a candle inside the container before closing the lid. The candle burns until there is no oxygen left so that all the insects that may be inside will die by suffocation.

Using a candle is a clever technique discovered by women in Bangladesh.

It is also common in our village to put dry leaves into the container as insecticide before pouring the seed in, and to add more dry leaves on top of the seed before tightly closing the container.

Some of the insect-repellent plants you can use are neem or tobacco. You just put them inside the container. The smell repels and even kills insects. You may also use dried chilli powder.

There’s another important thing to know. It’s not a good idea to keep the container on the floor. If you keep it on the floor, the grains at the bottom of the container get damp. They grow mouldy and lose their colour. I always put the container up on top of bricks, blocks, a table or wood. This keeps the dampness away.

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Dear men and women rice farmers, you have just heard some very practical techniques for conserving rice seed very well. In a nutshell, to prevent your seed from spoiling, remember to follow these steps:

  • Select the healthy panicles and save only clean and sorted grains.
  • Keep seed in airtight containers, and never in gunny sacks or polythene bags.
  • If the container is an earthenware pot, you can seal its pores with paint or cooking oil inside and outside to make it airtight.
  • Before storage wash and dry the container well.
  • Fill the container up to the brim. If you don’t have enough seed to fill the pot, add very dry sand or puffed rice to fill the empty space. Or light a candle to consume oxygen, so insects won’t survive.
  • You can add dry neem, tobacco or other insect repellent leaves to control insects in storage.
  • Close the container tightly.
  • Raise the container off the floor to prevent the grains from getting damp and damaged.
  • Don’t forget that correctly stored seed is good seed, and good seed contributes to a good harvest.

Dear men and women rice farmers, if you wish to have a copy of the video on seed cleaning, drying and conservation, please contact [radio broadcaster should give name of local contact person or organization distributing rice videos].



Contributed by: Felix S. Houinsou, Rural Radio Consultant/Africa Rice Center (WARDA)

Reviewed by: Paul Van Mele, Program Leader, Learning and Innovation Systems/Africa Rice Center (WARDA)

Information sources

Radio broadcasters can click on this link to see a list of rice video distribution sites or see the list that is included with this script package.